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The Dylan Ratigan Show

News/Business. The day's most important issues and breaking news stories. New.

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Us 20, Mr. Lee 5, Tlc 5, Sarah Palin 5, James Jae Lee 5, Msnbc 4, James J. Lee 4, Melissa 3, Jim Cavanagh 3, James Lee 3, Derrick 3, Agnes 3, California 2, Fbi 2, Tamron 2, Jim 2, Melissa Shepherd 2, Mara 2, Tom Costello 2, Lee 2,
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  MSNBC    The Dylan Ratigan Show    News/Business. The day's most important  
   issues and breaking news stories. New.  

    September 1, 2010
    4:00 - 5:00pm EDT  

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>> because as you say, we are all listening. >> we are all listening. this is when you have the maximum crowd, the maximum attention. i mean, he has that. if he continues this much longer, some of that is going to be lost. some people are going to start holding him responsible for what he is doing as opposed to the message he's trying to deliver, so if i was a negotiator, i would be honestly telling him you have made your point. we are all listening. let's get that information out while people are most willing to receive it. don't lose the opportunity that you've created for yourself. >> but in doing so also, you know, let's go after the opportunity. let's be heard, but let's also release the hostages. >> and i think that's the continuing point of the message. that if anyone gets hurt, your message is lost on the injuries, so let's not let that message get lost. let's let it get its maximum impact by what you have to say and not what you've done to say it. >> right, and also the credibility of the message
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because, you know, as we've learned from 2008 when he was out in front of the building in protest and tried to rally for a week, certain employees were aware of him. they didn't know what to think of whether or not that he was violent or not, but he didn't show any violent tendencies, and now he comes back two years later, and it's -- it's a different forum that he's trying to get everyone's attention with. >> yeah. i think it shows his level of frustration that he believes he has no other way that in his mind he has tried every way he can to get that message out. he has not been able to get an audience for what he believes is a very valuable if not planet-saving message, so right now he needs to capitalize on what he's done. this is the moment. this is the time to share that. >> right. >> get that into the news. >> all right. we'll hear from montgomery county police right here. let's go back and take you there to the scene in silver spring. >> or soon fer theer if there's
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sort of resolution we'll come back and provide you with the information that we have now at this time but since chief manger spoke 45 minutes ago there is no new information. we're continuing to talk with this man, and we're hoping that this will bring about a safe and successful resolution, okay? >> can you spell your name? >> s-t-a-r-k-s. >> do you have the fbi involved? is montgomery county police are speaking with him. we're the lead agency here. >> mike, mike, mike. >> can you repeat the top of it? >> is it the fbi that's talking? who is talking to him? >> right now we're being helped by various agencies. it's my understanding that montgomery county police officers are talking with him, and that has been continuing for
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well over an hour, closing in on two hours now. >> is atf involved? >> i don't know. >> how many hostages does he have? >> chief manger said 45 minutes ago a small number. that has not changed. >> do we have any update on the name of the snupt. >> no, we don't. >> is there telephone communication or face-to-face? >> i believe it's telephone. >> paul, we missed the top of what you said, the announcement that you made at the top. would you repeat that. >> tom, what i said was we don't have any new information since chief manger spoke about 45 minutes. what we do plan to do with fire rescue and possibly others involved in this is at 5:00 or maybe sooner, if there's some sort of resolution where we can, is come down here and speak and provide you the information that we have at that time. >> can you confirm that the entire building is evacuated
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now? >> no, i can't. >> can you tell us where the suspect is? >> no. >> still on the first floor? >> anything more specific? >> no. >> can't answer that. >> are there any injuries that you know of at this point? >> there's still no confirmed injuries. no reports of any injuries that have been brought to my attention. >> you won't tell us things basically because you're afraid that he'll hear about it and it will disturb the negotiations? >> a couple of categories as far as negotiation. some parts of this information we just don't know. some parts we don't want to release because it may affect how we're treating this situation. thank you. >> thank you. >> just listening to an update with captain starks from the silver spring police department there. as you can hear, very guarded in the information that he's willing to release, but off the
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top saying that they are negotiating still with this individual. tom costello is still on the ground there. tom, and you've made this point from the very beginning to be careful because this individual is likely watching a lot of the coverage of this, because his goal was to get his message out here, but the captain there guarded but saying, listen, they are still in contact with him. >> yeah, that's right. montgomery county police captain paul starks making the point that they are hoping for a peaceful resolution, and they have continued to maintain contact with the suspect continuously, we are told, for more than an hour now. did i get an answer to the question that i raised on the air a short time ago and what's going on with the county schools here? they all left, depending on whether it's high school, middle school or elementary school, they are all out now. we're being told by the county school administrator that it's taking longer to get some children home because of the affected routes. if the buses cannot get to the
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route, they will bring the children back to their home schools and call parents. we are told that one local catholic school is on lockdown at the moment, but as it relates to the county school system, they seem to have for the most part managed to, or at this moment, navigating through all of that, but, of course, that still doesn't adprooes dress the other i other issue. let me address this. can you shut up to the train platform. carmine wasn't expecting this. i want to show how close we are to the metro stop that we're talking about, running right through the center of this perimeter. the police, in fact, right on top of the police perimeter, so when we talk about how this is going to affect the daily commute for people in and around d.c., that gives you a -- a good idea right there where the metro systems and the trains are affected by all of this, and people who are leaving the metro systems or the trains, if in fact they are able to get off the train here. but this is a very busy public
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transit center right in the heart of downtown silver spring, maryland, which as we've said numerous times is literally just a mile from the d.c. line and the greater d.c. area. you know, you really can't distinguish between d.c. and maryland at this point. it's one big metroplex. back to you guys. >> tom, were you pointing out that this as the evening progresses and more people start to get off work or go through the area could create a traffic nightmare in and around there since so many streets are blocked off, and this is on lockdown, if you will. >> yeah, that's absolutely right. again, we're at the center -- the discovery channel building is right there. it's right in the heart of silver spring, and as i said about an hour and a half ago or so, that building and all of the development that's gone on here has really been a part of the revitalization of downtown silver spring, really helped in the makeover of this area. there's a lot of nice stores here, a lot of nice street shopping, the major transit center so it's a very populated area.
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a lot of people come and go, but as can you see the entire area, all the streets shut down by montgomery county police with some assistance from the metro transit police as we continue to wait for a resolution for this and everybody is hoping this is peaceful. >> thomas is now with me. you were over on the satellite. >> had us separated. >> now together following this breaking news story that is now going into its third hour. this started about 1:00 eastern time. it's now 4:00, and who knows how long this will go on quite honestly because the individual did not go in firing, and when you look at his website, he's not necessarily violent in his language, very passionate about his cause. >> right. >> but not violent necessarily in the language. >> very serious though, a man that's working with intent. we didn't get a lot of new information on the update we were just waiting for at 4:00, the one we got around 3:15 was much more informative. if you are just joining us here on msnbc we follow this breaking news out of silver spring, maryland, where a gunman walked into the discovery
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communications building. police say that he walked in with metallic canister devices around his body. there are no confirmations of shots fired but a confirmation that he does have a handgun. remained on the first floor of the building there at one discovery place, and they do say that they have hostages, that he has hostages. they haven't confirmed though the number of hostages, but there are some 1,900 people that work in this building, that were for the most part safely evacuated. we're now told they were told to go home. jim cavanagh is a former atf agent, and he joins us now to talk more about what we're learning as this situation goes on. jim, what we know and what we learned in that first press conference from the montgomery county police department is that at 2:15 that's pretty much the time that they engaged telephone communication with the suspect here, james j. lee. that's a good indication that they can keep dialogue open as they try to resolve this, correct? >> it's actually excellent. i mean, they really got him on
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the phone very fast. i mean, montgomery county police are very efficient. their s.w.a.t. team is some of the best in the country. they have a great negotiating time. i worked with him on the d.c. sniper case. they are very good and got him on the phone very quickly. that's good for james who is in there as the hostage taker but very good for the people being held, that there's an open line of communication where they can, you know, bring down the emotional level here and get to, you know, the meat of the matter, in other words, what are his demands? what does he want, and how can they work together to resolve it? >> also, you know, as i mentioned just a moment ago, and tamron and i were talking about this, that we haven't gotten more information from the most recent update but police said earlier there are hostages. we don't know the number, but that's priority number one to make sure that they are safely removed from this situation, and then as you say, that his demands are met. >> right, exactly but not necessarily met. they want to listen to his demands. they have identified him, that's
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great. they have located him probably in some area of the building, and hopefully they have that in the smallest contained part that they can. they have evacuated the rest of the building. this is kind of a standard procedure for the team, and now they have opened this communication line with james, and they will be truthful with him, truthful and honest and listen to what he says and they will tell him straight what they need to do and what has to happen. >> right. >> one of the good things here in a bad situation is this is a guy that's very much concerned about the environment, and he has taken over the discovery channel which is known worldwide as a place that's concerned about the environment as well. so he -- he also has an interest. he wants the discovery channel to do certain things. he's upset about, so they need to work with him on those demands and those issues and work through them with him. >> when we talk about the information we do know, that he
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has a handgun on him and also metallic canister devices that were strapped around, what is that an indication off? >> well, it's -- obviously he wants to get his message out, and these are the tools that he's using to do it. we negotiated with a guy in nashville a few years ago with a live bomb strapped on his chest and we talked to him all day trying to resolve his issues which were workplace issues. so he can be worked with and the situation can deescalate, and, you know, it's a dangerous situation, but it's a good sign that negotiators are talking with him. it's a good sign that the building has been evacuated, and it's a very good sign that james is talking with them so he should continue to do that. i think -- i think they just need some time now to work through that. >> and when you talk about time, and you just said that you recently had a hostage negotiation situation not that long ago in these situations, time is of the essence, but there really is no cap on time,
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correct? i mean, in keeping these lines of communication open, that is priority number one? >> right. the main thing is that you're talking to each other, time is, you know, it's kind of a neutral factor for -- for either side. i mean, sometimes the barricades go very long. you know, we talked to david koresh for many, many weeks. i've had him go four days and in some days 12 hours. you know, it just all depends on james. it all depends on the situation inside, and the on-scene commanders will have to read, you know, what's going on inside. i think it's very positive for the people that may be being held and for everybody who is talking and that should continue so it's sort of stable at the moment, and they are at least speaking to each other. he's i'm sure elaborating what his demands are, what he wants the discovery channel to do and what he sees they need to do and the police are going to be forthright and truthful with him. >> mm-hmm.
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jim, thank you very much. jim cavanagh, a former atf agent and tamron, we're hearing from him and the other guests that we've had on, the honesty needs to stay there with what's taking place on the outside as investigators and the rescue crews that have been called in are now in communication with this man, and he needs to be honest with them, too, about exactly what he needs. >> absolutely. >> and then let the hostages go. >> let's bring in darkt bartlet, a former s.w.a.t. team member and former sniper team member as well. derrick, might part of the negotiating be, listen, we will talk to you, james lee, but we need you to let these people go? or is he their leverage at this point? he's using them as a leverage and a way of police rushing in and taking him into custody, but he has to understand that as long as those people aren't in danger they will listen and talk to them but as soon as he puts
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someone's life at risk the game changes all together. the good thing is if he wanted to hurt people, he would have done that just by walking in the door. >> right. >> the fact that he didn't hurt people at the onset and that he's now talking means that his goal here is to communicate whatever grievance he has as opposed to just hurting people at random. >> what about the fact that obviously this is emotional, he's very passionate in his writing about what he believes should be done to save the planet and what the discovery channel should be doing, but, you know, as i mentioned. this started at 1:00 eastern time. it's now 4:15. you've got adrenaline and emotions and eventually i would imagine you get fatigued. i mean, how big of a problem is that in trying to keep him, you know, alert and commune capital gains tax and keeping him focused here? >> well, it is a problem because once the adrenaline does run out of initial surge of the situation, everyone, including the negotiators and police officers and the hostages and hostage-taker are all going to start to suffer, and you would
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hope that you can resolve these things as quickly as possible but sometimes these things can drag on for hours, for days and in some cases weeks. >> and in a situation like this, would negotiators ask to speak with some of the employees who are with him, some of the hostages, just to get their take, or is that something that is usually off limits? >> no. sometimes they will ask to speak to the hostages just to find out if they are in a good state of mind, if there's any requests that they may have for like food or medicine or medical ascension so, yeah, if the hostage-taker is willing to left the hostages communicate, that's usually something in play. >> it's interesting, too. obviously lee was on the radar of the discovery channel of having been arrested and having held a number of protests out front there. when he went into that lobby, i
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would assume and i don't want to go too far here, he would know that he's on their radar, on their list of people to look out for? >> i'm sure he's been aware of that, but when people get to this stage, those are considerations that they really don't pay a whole lot of attention to. >> what do you think he is paying attention to now? and i don't want you to have to speculate too far, just though from the writings and his history, his concerns? in a situation like this, what would someone want beyond being heard which is what's happening right now? >> sometimes that's all they want. they want an audience and they want someone to hear what it is that has been bothering them to the point where they have reached this stage in their life. hopefully this is going to satisfy his needs right now, but beyond that, it's impossible to read his mind or to guess what his motivations are. >> what do you think is the focus right now for the s.w.a.t. team, the montgomery county sheriff's office at this point? >> to keep the tension level
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where it is. don't let anybody get overly excited. don't let anyone panic in any kind of way and certainly don't let this turn violent. hopefully as he continues to talk, he gets off what he wants to be heard and said, and he'll recognize that this has to end in a peaceful fashion and he rehe'ses the hostages and sundayers to police. >> all right, derrick, thank you very much for your insight. again, we're watching this breaking story in silver spring, maryland, where a number of employees, we don't know the exact number, are inside a building where a gunman is holding them. some of the employees are on the first floor according to the montgomery county sheriff's office with the individual gunman, and there may be more employees on a higher floor who are basically there just for safety until they are able to get out of that building this. all started around 1:00. as many as 1,900 people work in the building, but we don't know
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how many people were in at the time of this. we did speak with a freelance writer who was in the building when there was an announcement made over the intercom system that there was a situation. they didn't elaborate and had people go up to the eighth and ninth floor for safety. many of those people, according to the writer we spoke with, were taken down a back stairwell to safety. there is a day care inside the building. that day care was safely evacuated and children placed into cribs and a number of children at one time, thomas, to get them out of building. we're still waiting to hear if authorities are able to get from the suspect how many people are with him on that floor. i we don't know the state of his mind but all of the experts that spoke with us over the last two or three house, they believe it's a good sign that he's talking to politician and didn't go in shooting which indicates he may not be a violent person. he may want to be heard more an anything. >> he showed his handgun. we know that he is arm.
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clint van zandt has been talking to us, a former hostage negotiator and profiler. while he did show the weapon, obviously he's restrained on any type of guns blazing, walking in violent. this is a man that is interested in getting a message across, probably not acting violently? >> no, he to our knowledge he hasn't committed any act of violence. this is someone who wants to get attention, and he's tried -- and i don't think he wants to get it for himself. he wants to get it for the cause. you know, he's publicly state that had he wants to try to save the planet and wants us to take better care of the planet and the investment that we have in this planet right now. he's used this situation and the presence of a weapon to get attention, to get us to turn and say, objection you have something to say. and as a negotiator the point is, okay, you've done that.
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there is no need for anybody to be harl. if you think about the planet you think about every tree, every animal and every person and, of course, you care about every person that you may be holding inside there right now. what i find rewarding, as the two of you just suggested, he appears to have been negotiating or talking with the law enforcement representative for a couple of hours. that means he has a lot to say. he has a message that he's conveying, if i were a negotiator i would be taking a lot of notes and trying to facilitate this. one thing he's got to understand is that the negoitiators will be honest with him. they won't lie to him and programs something that they can't carry out. but, again, none of us get everything we want in our lives and i think he understands that as an adult. the message is how would you like to be heard and how can you capitalize on the attention that
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you have to maximize your message and then resome of this situation so that people think positive as opposed to negatively about what you have done? >> will they try to keep the negotiation up continuously or will they say we'll call you back in 20 minutes and continue the conversation? >> you can do both. me and jim cavanagh have been involved in these situations over the year and as jim mentioned, i've been in situations that have losted an hour, hour and a half and been in overseas hostage negotiations that have lasted six months or longer where are we conducting negotiations every minute in those lengthy situations? mean, i was at waco, and there were times when we would talk to the branch davidians and times we wouldn't. what you might do in a situation like this, if he needs a
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breather, just say let's keep this line open and lay the found done. get a drink and go to the restroom, whatever you have to do, but let's make sure we don't lose this line of communication, and i would probably ask him just to set the phone down and come back again, but it sounds like the police are saying that these are ongoing and almost continuous negotiations, and i would expect that. if he has a lot of information he wants to get out, if he has a lot of concerns, then he would -- then this is his chance to share them, but it seems like he's probably had enough time and realizes he has the capability of directing law enforcement to his internet sites. he can talk about brochures and pamphlets he's handed out, so a lot of that information has been memorialize that had he once shared. we may be able to get our hands on that very quickly and share that information. meet the concerns that he has, and help him do what he wants which is to resolve this situation without anybody being hurt. >> clint, we want to ask you to
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stay with us as we continue our breaking news coverage here on msnbc as we discuss what took place in maryland where an unknown number of hostages with being held at one discovery place. a number of the employees there were safe ly evacuated. that's a working office building when the announcement was announced, they could have been on different floors, away from their purse or briefcase and they don't have access to their keys. >> yeah. >> and they also don't have access to their vehicles because it's part of the lockdown and even if they did have access to their keys they can't get to the vehicles so hopefully the people who have been evacuated now are getting in touch with family members or hopefully police are organizing something to get these people transport away from the scene and safely home as they won't be going back in that building today. >> right. let's go to tom costello. he's on the ground and has been
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outside the discovery channel's headquarters. tom, are you seeing any more activity, or is it just -- as it kind of feels quite honestly at this point, it's kind of wait and see. >> reporter: yeah, i think that's exactly what it is, and everybody wants to be very careful on what they report and the police clearly want to be very careful in how they handle this situation. they don't want to antagonize the suspect. none of us wants to antagonize the suspect. we're very mindful of the fact that he may be watching tv as we've said a number of times. i would also point out that there is some international attention to the story, some international media showing up here, and i think the reason for that is because it involves the discovery channel. it's a household brand name. everybody knows, and you can watch the discovery channel and its international editions all over the world, so as a result of that, now we've got some south american broadcasters represented as well as itn out of uk is here as well.
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there is, as we've said many times, this is an incident in which the montgomery county police department is in charge. they have got their rapid response unit on the scene. there are multiple police cruisers surrounding this entire facility, and the discovery channel sits right in the heart of silver spring. what we have seen is no movement to speak of over the course of the past several hours. now this has been going on since 1:00 east coast time what. that tells you is that the police and the s.w.a.t. personnel have presumably taken up positions and are not moving a whole lot right now, awaiting orders and hoping that this all resolves itself in a favorable fashion, but it would appear just by the lack of movement that we've seen that the police are in position or are just standing there and awaiting orders. >> okay. tom. we're going to talk to you in a second here, but we're going to go to an interview that we did earlier today -- that tom did earlier today with someone who was in the building.
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>> we were just sitting around our desks and offices working and a notice came over the p.a. system saying that there was a situation in the lobby to get to an office, if you could, and from there, after that a couple e-mails came out, and we just started looking out the windows and we saw the police cars starting to block off the corners and then heavier and heavier police equipment started rolling in. >> and then you all took it upon yourselves to evacuate the building? >> no. we kind of stayed and waited for further instrubs. an e-mail came across that said they believed there was a gunman in the lobby and people started pulling up police scanners on their iphones and were listening in on what was happening and that's how we got a lot of information about what was going on. >> that's just one of the witnesses who was inside the building at the time that this individual, james j. lee, walked in, flashed a gun according to authorities, and he's been inside that building since. it's now 4:27 east coast time, and this started around 1:00. you see there are a number of
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reporters out front. we've even seen what looks like a couple of people walking around, even though that area is pretty much on lockdown. authorities are not sure how many of the employees of the discovery channel are with mr. lee. they do know that there are some people with him on the first floor, and there are maybe others who are hiding in the building itself, but so far thankfully there are no shots fired, no fatalities and no one is injured and police are negotiating with james j. lee to end this in a peaceful manner, perhaps letting him know that his message has been heard. a number of people have now seen his website, and -- and they can conclude this in a way that he can come out and that these people can go home to their families safe tonight. >> that is the main entrance. i don't know if we can zoom in on the shot, but as you look to the right you can see that
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little roof line coming out right on the trees. that is the overhang that leads into the lobby into the building itself, and you can kind of make out that walkway, that sidewalk there. that runs on the side of the u-shaped driveway that goes into one discovery place where people get dropped off. they don't get -- you don't get very close to the building when you pull up. there's going to be a distance, a little walkway, as you see right there, but when you go in, this is a pretty big atrium that this lobby has as you would expect from a building this size. it's also pretty sparse. a security desk in the front and also some seating, and then behind that to the right-hand side there's some bathrooms on the first floor and then you go to the elevators. >> right. >> to move on throughout the building itself. as you can also make out on the left-hand side, it's kind of like and l-shaped building there where you get around. it houses a lot of major television cable networks like tlc, planet green, animal planet, discovery, also currently discovery health which
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i think shifts over later this year to be owned, the oprah winfrey network. they are working in coordination together so a lot of major cable television decisions come out of this building itself but primarily james j. lee, his passion, is for what's being put out over the airwaves on cable tv and on otherworks but primarily with discovery and what they are doing in covering the planet. he's taken many proposals to discovery trying to get them to put on some of the ideas that he has, but his idea isn't something they were interested in pursuing. >> you mentioned tlc, thomas. he also refers to tlc and his list of so-called demands that have been appearing on his website save the planet protest. he talked about tlc and wanted discovery health and tlc to stop encouraging the birth of more human infants. in addition to being concerned about global warming, many of his demands include
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overpopulation, and so it does not and is not limited to, you know, this save the planet alone kind of a global warming, environmental. >> right. >> some of his most passionate language in his list of demands has to do with what he sees as an overpopulation problem. he says, from one little small bit that i'll read from his website, the humans, question mark, the planet does not need humans, and he says at the end that these are the demands and says of lee, and, again, very passionate about his beliefs, but never taking i guess, i hope to anyone's imagination. to this point he was arrested back in 2008 protesting outside, for loitering and littering outside the people when he threw money into the air to try to get people to be outside as a part of his protest. one report also indicated that they even hired homeless people to try to beef up the number, i
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guess, to show some type of show of force in front of the discovery channel. we have another clip of sound that we want to play to you from someone who was there when this all start found fold. >> you were inside when it happened. tell me what you saw. tell me what you heard. tell me what you did. >> well, we were told to lock ourself in our offices, that they had an issue going on in the lobby. they told us that there's a gunman in the lobby and for us to lock ourselves in closed offices. shortly after that they told us to evacuate through a nearby stairwell and that's when all of this came down. >> what do you make of this man? >> oh, just scared. i don't know what to make of it. i've never seen anything like this before. we're just praying that our co-workers and receptionist folks and everything are safe. >> what was it like inside there, ma'am? >> panic. >> panic, nervous, you know, afraid. we weren't sure if the gunman would come up the other floors or anything so they told us to get into the interior offices
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and lock the doors and everything so people came up from upper levels, lower levels to the upper levels and we all, you know, crammed into offices and locked the doors. >> how did you first learn about this? >> one of my employees was out to lunch, and -- and had come through the lobby, and he called back on his cell phone and told sfwlus what did he say? >> he said the gunman pointed the gun at him and told him to be still and he kept on going. >> kept on going. >> yeah, and he called us back and told that is there's a gunman in the lobby. >> and we went to the window and that's when we saw the policeman start to come up and guns pulled and everything. >> scarey? >> yes, very scarey. >> and you can imagine the people who are still in there are quite afraid at this point not knowing what will happen in this situation but hoping like the rest of us that it ends peacefully. back to the individual, james jae lee, thomas, on his list of demands. to your point, really is involved or focused passionately
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on the programming. >> right. >> for the discovery channel which would back up what you're hearing that he wanted to be a part of programming. he even in this letter talks about the primetime slots. that's not something that a casual viewer would be engaged in, and he literally, according to this letter, wanted to set up their primetime slots, of what he wanted discovery channel to cover. >> let's go to melissa shepherd who was in one discovery place when all this went down. explain to us where you were in relation to the lobby and what you heard and what you were instructed to do to get out of the building. >> i was on the third floor on the same side as where the lobby is, and a co-worker same in and said do not leave this room. it houses a lot of consultants. he said don't leave. there's a gunman in the lobby and we didn't. he locked the door and then when
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we decided to leave, we went out to where the windows were and go see across where the lobby was and the police and saw snipers on the building across from us. police had their rifle pand we were told then to leave and go the to other side of the billing, away from where the lobby was. >> when you were told to leave this was on a public address system or where to go and what to do? >> no, other employees who told us to leave and go to the other side of the building. we were on the other side of the building and they said there was a situation in the lobby. >> okay. >> go back to your desks, so we all went to offices and crammed into offices and closed the doors and shut the lights off, and we were trying to listen to the news to try to find out what was going on. and then someone knocked on the door and said we need to evacuate. this was all going on over the
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course of half an hour, 45 minutes. >> as you were moving around though, did you have your car keys on you, or did you have your briefcase? >> i only had my blackberry. my purse, everything, is in the office still, and that happened to a lot of people but luckily i had been texting a co-worker and so i had my blackberry in my hand. the co-worker was out of lunch and didn't even know what was going on. >> and how long have you been working there at discovery? >> a year. >> a year, so in 2008 is the information we have is when the protest took place in front of the building that was orchestrated by james jae lee, is that a name that you've ever heard before in the time that you've worked there? >> never. >> or have you ever been made aware? >> no. the only thing that i know about is they were taking our phone systems down when "the sarah palin" show was going to air and there was a huge controversy over that so a lot of people started to post on facebook call discovery, call discovery. don't do it.
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you're taking our phone systems down and you're disrupting our workday and people were like being vulgar and saying who cares, and i'm like, you know, someone is going to go crazy and do something here because this is not the kind of behavior that should be happening or that you should be supporting. >> i think for a lot of us we're really surprised, and maybe melissa you can tell us that. you've given us one reference to a television show. does that happen to a lot of the programming? >> no, that's the only one i'm familiar with so far that this has happened. there's a group that's been putting up protest signs all around the building, so that's the first time that i came in contact with a group that was highly against their programming. >> and so -- >> and i've also been seeing it all over facebook too. >> when you were leaving and finally got word to evacuate the building and said, you know, there was information to leave and not to leave and lock yourself and then to leave again. >> yeah. >> what was --
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>> when we got to the stairway, we were told to go upstairs. first we were told to go upstairs and then we were told to go downstairs and then there was a confusion and everyone stopped and we were right by the windows directly across from the lobby in plain sight of the lobby and we were trying to figure out where we want to go. someone screamed i don't want to be by this window and some people went downstairs and others went upstairs. luckily i was one of the ones who went downstairs and got out. we were by the building and they kept moving us further and further away. we saw them disburse and they took all the kids in the day care center itself. >> are any of your colleagues that you know that haven't come out of building, or that haven't gone home? >> no. not that i know of. i just actually found a bunch of my colleagues at the marriott over across from discovery, so a bunch of them went home because some of them were able to get in
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their cars and go. some of them had to leave their cars and all their stuff in the building, just like i did. >> and for a lot of people, i know you said you were lucky enough to have your blackberry in their hand but were people passing around blackberries to call family members to come and get them because as we've been reporting here their cars are in the lockdown sideways and some other people might not have their keys like you don't have your keys. a lot of people helping coordinate each other ways to get away from the property wins they were in the safety zone. >> we had no idea. once they finally told us to disperse and just go home and not come back, and a bunch of us were left without anything, and a lot of us got broken away from each other. i ended up by myself away from the co-worker that i actually left with so i actually had to take a back way to leave to get to where my other co-workers were. >> you seem very calm to me
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right now. >> yeah. it's been a couple hours. i was not calm when it was first happening. i was shaking and almost passed out when i first got out of building. it was very scary. the scary moment is when they were telling us to go upstairs and then telling us to go downstairs and telling us to go upstairs because i didn't know if that meant there was somebody downstairs by the exit that we were going to come out. i didn't know if that meant it was not safe and that's when i started shaking and got really nervous and we were hearing there were two people. we were hearing that there were explosives involved. we were hearing that there were hostages, that people were shot. we kept hearing different stories, but it was one thing after another. >> now you're safely at home, and -- and -- >> i'm not at home. i'm actually at a hotel across from discovery. >> are you at the marriott? >> i'm here through thursday. >> are you -- you said you found some colleagues at the marriott, correct? >> yeah, and they went home.
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i'm still here. i'm actually here with my boss because she just got into town today, too. >> how does this, as this situation continues to unfold, are you going to have trepidation when you return to work in this building, when you walk back through those doors? >> i actually had always been worried about something like this happened after the whole sarah palin thing started spreading around facebook, and i saw all the signs around the building. i actually said to one of my best friends somebody is going to go crazy one of these days because of all this stuff that people are promoting. mark my words, i said something like this is going to happen so i'm going to be a little bit worried. >> well, we appreciate you joining us here on msnbc, melissa shepherd, who works inside of the building and was part of the evacuation plans. tamron, as you can tell, we're talking there and thinking you seem a little calm. >> right, right. >> but at the time, at least
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melissa and a lot of her colleagues, they have had the time to step away and maybe process what's going on to calm down, but that's got to be very scary. >> i can't imagine, but i do want to make the point that melissa was talking about some of the protests that they received after it was announced that sarah palin would receive a show on that network. there's no mention in any of the information and literature written by james jae lee referring to sarah palin or that show. his issues are directed to the discovery channel and how they cover global warming. he does mention the encouragement of shows where people have multiple children, and he says you turn these people into heroes who have these multiple kids, and there are a number of shows on the network such as -- that we can refer to and name the list of them but i want to be clear that he's not mentioned sarah palin and her show anywhere even though that employee says they received a lot of complaints about that show. let's go to derrick bartlet, the former s.w.a.t. team and sniper
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team member. derrick, i wanted to talk to you because the person that thomas just interviewed, melissa, we noticed how calm she was and you referred to the adrenaline rush, that the people who want to get out of there and even the gunman may have had initially and now we have been in this for three hours, and that adrenaline rush is gone and how can the s.w.a.t. members focus and engage and hopefully get them out of there? >> well, it's just a matter of what the s.w.a.t. members, it's a matter of training. this is what they do. they understand the dynamics of a hostage situation or a barricaded subject. the negotiators are going to do their best to keep mr. lee focused and talking and moving toward a resolution as opposed to just letting this go on indefinitely. so it does take some effort on their part, but they all have a goal in mind. they have a mission to complete, and everybody understands what they need to do to keep that
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mission on track and moving forward. >> now is there a worry in something like this that the individual might become agitated if he believes that he's being rushed to come to some conclusion here? >> there's always that danger, and, again, the negotiators are trained and have experience in dealing with people and dealing with their emotions and the roller coaster ride will go on and they will push just enough to keep the conversation going but not so much as to agitate the subject and make him angry and if they do, they will allow things to back off to an even keel and they will do their best to a point where things don't escalate radically out of control. >> what about getting family members, derrick, involved on this? on his myspace page james lee says he's single. we know his brother-in-law gave him a television interview where
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they described him as being estranged from the family, not close to the family and saying perhaps it was even a turning point when his parent passed away. is it likely that they are trying to reach out to any loved ones, girlfriend, friends, anyone, to calm this down and end this? >> usually as a rule of thumb it's not a good idea to bring family members into a situation like this because you don't always know what the relationship this person would have with his family? sometimes you're doing more harm than good. you don't want to set off things that could happen. it's better off to establish a rapport with this individual and talk with him. >> and you build the trust. >> right. >> thank you very much, derrick. a breaking news story out of silver spring, maryland, and mara, i understand you had an opportunity to talk with some people that are there. >> that's correct. i spoke with a couple of people
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from discovery, one person who has worked there in the past and he was describing the relationship, if you will that employees had with the gunman james lee and he was a frequent presence at this facility, someone that they were familiar with, that they would see going to work or coming out and taking breaks and he was frequently there protesting. this is someone who was very vocal about his grievances with discovery. he would come and protest and at times talk about the grievances and talk about things that were bothering him and the like and he was described as a passionate protester. he didn't have any indication that he would go somewhere at the time, certainly someone very passionate about his grievances with discovery, show up with picket signs and the like, he would throw money in the air trying to generate attention and that type of thing and that person was known to people in the building. he was someone that they saw when he was coming to protest and they were going into work.
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i also had the opportunity to speak to someone who was there today and she described to me a little bit of what the situation was like this afternoon. she said that they found out about the situation in two ways. one through a p.a. system and one through an e-mail that went out. she said that in the e-mail they were told that there was an armed person in the building, that they were to stay in their locked offerses until further notice and they were later told they should evacuate immediately and go home. something i found interesting is when they were locked in their offices they were able to look out windows and could see the streets being locked off and could hear the sirens. they definitely had an idea of what was happening and despite that everyone remained calm, followed instructions and they were able to evacuate and they were told to go home. that's pretty much all they were told. a lot of people, unfortunately, couldn't go home because they left their house keys and belongings in the office so people were milling about waiting to see what would happen. now, just to kind of describe this area a little bit, this is my hometown, silver spring, maryland, and this area is really the crown jewel of silver
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spring. a beautiful downtown area with lots of businesses, and discovery someone of the largest complexes there. this particular billing had about 1,900 employees. very built up. a lot of construction has happened in the last few years, a very built up and developed area where all of this is taking place today. tamr tamron? >> mara, back to the people you were able to talk to there. thomas remarked and it's so true, mel sat person we spoke, seemed very calm. she said when she was walk out the door though when this initially started though she was shaking, just a nervous wreck to think that there was a gunman inside. other people that you spoke with, did they articulate some of that same fear? >> they said the exact same thing that everybody remained very calm. only imagine that you're sitting at work and you get an e-mail saying there's an armed person in the building and you're to locket doors and stay inside and you look out the windows and you can see the blocking closed off. >> right. >> you can imagine how terrifying that must be but experts have done studies on how people react with this but overwhelmingly when people are faced with situations like this they do not panic.
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they react very calmly and the people i've spoken with actually say that's exactly what happened. that they were scared and shake ebb up but at the time people acted very calmly and were able to evacuate very calmly and even after it happened they were milling about the area discussing it amongst themselves and at no time was there any panic despite how terrifying it must have been. >> mara, when you spoke to the person before that had been witness to the protests in '08, did they say that they saw james jae lee in between the time he was ordered not to come back to the building and any time between now or that was really it, that one week pop where they saw him so much and it made him memorable but never saw him since? >> what they described to me was their most memorable encounter with him which was that period in 2008. it's not clear to me whether they saw him in the interim. but during that time they did say employees would go in and engage him, because this was someone outside their workplace and kept coming back, they tried to engage him in a logical discussion to see what his
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grievances and problems with the company were and he was willing to engage and was not swayed by the arguments that they were making. this is not someone that was a stranger to the building. this person who worked there said that when he heard of the news reports he recognized the man immediately. >> okay. mara, thank you so much. we want to talk now about agnes jazinski, a reporter who interviewed this man back in '08 to find out what he was doing and also to find out more about his protests. what did you find out? what first drew you to his story to want to cover it? >> discovery is no stranger to protests, but this one was particularly interesting because this was was allegedly paying homeless people to appear alongside him. he appeared out of nowhere. we heard he was from california and eventually because he started throwing money in the air and doing things like this and being very vocal with his protests, he ended up being
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arrested for disorderly conduct and a lesser charge of littering. >> were you able to confirm though that he was giving money to homeless people to be part of his protest? >> you know, we followed up with various shelters in the area and they did hear, you know, from the advocates that would come from the shelters that he was indeed doing this. >> okay. so through the course of what you worked on, did you talk to him specifically? did you -- did you find out what type of programming that he wanted discovery to hear from him? >> you know, i did. i did get to talk to mr. lee at length at his trial about a month later, i believe, it was march 2008. mr. lee actually chose to defend himself which also drew us to cover that trial so i did talk to him in the back of a courtroom that day, and, i mean, he seemed -- this was all very bizarre. you know, he seemed just very passionate about his cause.
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he wanted discovery to be more green. he didn't think discovery was doing enough for the environment. that was, you know, basically his bent. >> agnes, in the time that you talked with him, did you talk with his family? you've got someone throwing money up in the air to get attention. that would indicate he doesn't have any financial problems. what did you learn about him personally, if anything? >> right. he apparently -- we ended up learning that he sold several properties in maui, hawaii, where he lived before moving to california which at that point was where he was living. then he kind of disappeared after that. we didn't -- you know, this has been two years since we've heard from this person, so, yeah. i mean, he had -- we learned that had he about $21,000 in cash in the duffel bag he had
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with him that day at the protest when he was arrested so this man had a lot of money. >> agnes, when you did speak with him in court and he represented himself through trial what, did you find his demeanor to be like, and what did you find his personality to be like when speaking to you about the situation he found himself in? >> right. mr. lee believed he would win, but it was -- the man did not come from a lawyerly background. i don't think he knew what he was really getting himself into. he -- i believe the laurene asked him there whether he still wanted a public defender as the trial began because it was obvious that he would have a tough time defending himself. >> and was he -- he wasn't being held on bail, was he? he bailed himself out and went through this process, or was he being held? >> i believe he was being held,
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yeah. >> and you sat there -- again, describe his demeanor and his stance, his defense stance in that courtroom. >> well, he argued that because no one had complained actually at the rally, because, you know, he was throwing money out into the air, that he -- you know, that he wasn't guilty of anything because basically nobody was complaining. he also said that his first amendment rights were violated because he believed that this was a peaceful protest. >> right. >> even though later on we heard from police that there were several robberies that may or may not have been related to this rally that occurred. because there was a lot of money being exchanged and a lot of money flying around and that. >> all right, agnes, thank you so much. agnes jasinski, a reporter who covered the trial. >> and this was two years ago so it's hard to remember these details, but obviously he made an impression on her in the
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interview because he is and was so passionate about his cause. we are following breaking news out of silver spring, maryland, where a hostage situation started around 1:00 eastern time. authorities say a man that's been identified as james jae lee walked into the headquarters of the discovery channel, flashed a gun, and right now they are negotiating with this man in an attempt to end this standoff with him. from all accounts, this individual, james jae lee, is not seen as being necessarily violent, but as you can imagine authorities want to end this. there are an unknown number of employees still in the building, some with mr. lee on the first floor. a few others who may be on higher level floors. at one point in time employees were whisked to the eighth and ninth floor for their safety and some of those people were able to go down a back stairwell. now this story has gone on several hours. all of the experts say there's a concern about the adrenaline rush fading and keeping this
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individual's focus and encouraging him to do the right thing. if his message is that he wants to save the planet, there is a better way to get that message out instead of holding people with a gun inside of this workplace. weave talked to a number of witnesses. thomas roberts is here with me, and we've talked to a number of witnesses who described the moment of chaos but controlled chaos when it was announced over their intercom system that there was a situation and that the building needed to be evacuated. a lot of those people, unfortunately, are still milling around because their possessions, the keys to their homes and vehicles are back at the office at this point. >> well, what we have been able to confirm from police when they gave their first press briefing at 3:15 is that he does have a handgun. he does also have metallic canister devices around his neck. they spoke at 3:15 telling us also that they had been on the phone with him roughly for about an hour, so we do know that the lines of communication are open with this man, and they want to continue to keep the lines of
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communication open, as we now stem into the fourth hour of this hostage standoff. we're going to take a quick break. stay with us right here on msnbc as we continue to follow the breaking news that's coming out of silver spring, maryland.
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we're following breaking news from silver spring, maryland, where we're about to get another update from police. >> in just a few seconds chief manger of the silver spring police department will make a statement. with him is the chief from fire rescue richard bauers and also with him is the montgomery county district attorney. >> at approximately 1:00 this afternoon an asian male entered the discovery building in silver spring. he had what we believed to be explosive devices strapped to his front and back. he also had a handgun. there are reports that we've not confirmed yet that he did fire a shot when he came in.
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he took three people hostage near the -- near the lobby